OSEHRA 2012 Open Source EHR Summit Opens to Capacity Audience - Live Blog

Roger A. MaduroThe 1st Annual Open Source EHR Summit & Workshop opened to a capacity audience of nearly 400 participants today at the Gaylord National Conference center at National Harbor in Maryland today This is the conference held by Open Source Electronic Health Records Agent (OSEHRA) organization, the custodial agent of the code for the U.S Department of Veteran's Affairs' (VA) open source VistA EHR. The conference has a packed agenda with more that 30 speakers. We will be blogging live from the conference with a few bits and pieces and will follow up with a more extensive set of articles later on.

Earlier this morning we had two great plenary sessions. The first plenary session was on the Future of Open Source Software and the EHR chaired by James Peake, MD, former Secretary of the VA and currently the Chairman of the Board of OSEHRA. The panel included John Halamka, MD, MS, CIO of Beth Israel Medical Center and one of the best known advocates of health IT in the United States, Robert Wentz, President & CEO of Oroville Hospital, and Dr. Seong Ki Mun, President & CEO of OSEHRA.

Halamka's presentation was focused on his believe that the time of open source in healthcare has arrives. Halamka talked about his experience as CIO of Beth Israel where the entire data center is running on open source software. He also talked about the exchange of medical records using the Massachusetts Health Information Exchange.

Robert Wentz gave a presentation from the perspective of what CIO's in the private sector hospitals have to face. He started with a set of figures showing that most hospitals in the United States lose money on patient care and have to make up for it with other activities including gala dinners and bake sales. Under this situation implementing EHR's is a major financial challenge. He pointed out that all the money for EHR's coming from Washington has affected the way that hospitals pick EHRs making it more likely for vendors to take control of EHR implementations. Wentz then discussed the successful implementation of VistA at Oroville Hospital and how they managed to obtain meaningful use certification in less than a year. Wentz cited the help of the VistA Expertise Network, George Lilly, Rob Tweed, and WorldVistA as key in making the implementation a success.

Dr. Mun gave a presentation on the history of OSEHRA and the key role the organization is going to play in building a community development ecosystem...more to come...

Next panel was "Health IT Innovations in the Department of Veterans Affairs." Theresa Cullen, MD, former CIO of the Indian Health Service and currently Director of Health Informatics at the Veterans Health Administration was the session chair. Presenters were Roger Baker, CIO of the VA, Mike O'Neill, Senior Advisor, VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2), and Robert Jesse, MD, Deputy Undersecretary for Health at the VA.

Baker and O'Neill gave the most detailed presentation that I have ever heard on the history of the VA's open source strategy and what the VA is looking out of their open source effort as well as their hope of the role that OSEHRA is going to play moving forward. Dr. Jesse discussed many of the internal efforts in the VA, particularly by clinicians, on how to coordinate clinical efforts between the VA and OSEHRA.

This panel was followed by lunch. Speaker was Andrew Aitken, GM & SVP, Olliance Group, a Black Duck Software Division. Aitken gave a presentation on the history and principles of open source software. He ialso discussed the latest generation of open source communities which is the rise of "super communities," of which OSEHRA is one example.